In the 1960’s a giant chasm in the middle of Mexican Town was cut to make way for I-96 and I-75, as part of an effort to ease congestion on the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor in Canada. While a benefit to traffic, the new multi-lane highway put a huge rift in the community, basically creating an impenetrable wall between the two sides. In the 1990s a new effort began to bridge the gap and improve access in the area, as well as to the border crossing. inFORM studio won the design competition in 1998 with their proposal for a concrete and steel cable bridge on Bagley Avenue, which is located the heart of Mexican Town. The street is defined by a restaurant district, retail, a youth center and a variety of cultural enterprises and a number of important landmarks are located nearby.
inFORM’s bridge shoots right off Bagely Avenue and up and over the expanse of highway lanes, leading to the other side where pedestrians can more easily access the official border crossing. In a way, the bridge also serves as the gateway into the US with its prominent form, large mast and supportive steel cables. Built from concrete, the bridge itself provide critical pedestrian access within the community as well as recreational and leisure opportunities. Multiple ‘lanes’ are provided for walkers, runners and bikers, and they have been designed appropriately for their different travel speeds. Numerous works of public art decorate the bridge and entrance apron, while a series of LED lights illuminate the bridge at night.
Images ©James Haefner Photography
Not sure what the UAW has to do with anything here. As the story above notes, the bridge connects two parts of Mexicantown along Bagley--it also creates the preferred pedestrian and bike route from the increasigly dynamic Corktown neighborhood to the east with the dense and growing neighborhoods of Southwest Detroit. The bridge is widely regarded as both beautiful and functional. The public art and lighting scheme add a lot to the design.
This is no Santiago Calatrava, thank god. But even still, the inspiration is lacking and flat. Was this approved by the UAW? Because it seems to have nothing beneficial to do with the economy in Detroit or addressing the elephant in the room. Instead, is the attempt to distract with poor planning and uninspired design? Sorry to be scathing, but as someone who is from Detroit and hates to see what is happening there, this is the atypical "Bridge to nowhere" in the sense that it does nothing but create another eyesore.